In August this year I had another trip to Germany for work, and I stopped off in the UK first to visit my parents and take about a week of leave. My Dad had been wanting to visit the Channel Islands for a while, and I was very keen to see Mont St.Michel in France which is just a bit further along the coast, so I was happy to join them for some sightseeing! We caught a big catamaran ferry from the Weymouth pier, walking distance from their house, and sailed around 2 1/2hrs to Guernsey Island, the smaller of the two main Islands, Jersey being the larger one. The islands are famous for all sorts of random things (Jersey is a massive banking hub!) but the only thing I really knew of before I landed there were the famous Jersey (black and white) and Geurnsey (brown and white) dairy cows! Coincidentally, NZ now has the largest population of Jersey cows in the world, more than Jersey itself, at around 600,000. Of course we have like 6 million cows so it's only a moderate fraction popular in Taranaki apparently. That's your dairy fact for the day!
We had an afternoon and morning in Guersney on the way over the channel, before we sailed another hour to Jersey, and spent the time checking out the capital 'St Peter Port' and driving a rental car around the island! The island is around 73km2 and population around 70,000, so not very big at all, but there was plenty of interesting things to look at spread around, and definitely worth getting out of town to see the rugged coastlines and skinny streets - curvier and tighter than anywhere I've driven yet in Europe! The Channel islands have a very rich history, especially compared to somewhere relatively 'new' like NZ, going back to Neolithic times in 6000BC. Due to their defensible nature and proximity to France they were invaded many times over by the English and French, and most recently by Nazi Germany - the Channel Islands were the only British Soil to be held by Germany, and they were quite keen to keep them.
There were some interesting tourist destinations showing the WWII history, the most impressive of which was the German Military Underground Hospital, a large complex of tunnels dug into a hillside to create a protected hospital and ammunition store. The floor area of 7000m2 was dug out by prisoners of war, starting in 1940. There was an even larger complex built on Jersey, which has been turned into a flash museum, but this one was a cold dank series of tunnels largely unchanged, and mostly empty apart from a few pieces of equipment left behind. It was very dark and quite chilly, with freezing water flowing down the walls in places, and would not have been a pleasant place to recover!
We also visited some other tourist sites such as the 'Little Chapel' built on farmland out of thousands of pebbles, shells and broken pieces of china. It was built in 1914 by a monk, hoping to replicate the grotto and basilica at Lourdes, and is apparently the smallest consecrated church in the world! Probably not my best photographic essay today of Guernsey, but I was a bit slowed by illness and learning how to use a new camera at the same time! Everything from this trip was shot on the Panasonic GH4, which worked very well :) It has some very advanced video features, but also performs very well photographically and recommended as one of the current top of the line mirrorless cameras.